“chairs” by jontintinjordan is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

One of my former colleagues used to say that the week before classes was “finals for professors” because of the rush to create syllabi and design courses. This semester had not one but two finals sessions for professors with the big move to teaching remotely. But while the big lift for faculty might be subsiding a bit, many students might be getting to the toughest part of their educational careers. The Chronicle of Higher Education interviewed some experts in teaching online and they made some great suggestions. Click through to the article for all the details, but here is a quick summary:

  • Be proactive. Reach out when you have an inkling that a student might be struggling. Don’t wait until it’s been two weeks since you’ve seen them. We’ve heard from a lot of faculty that students appreciate these efforts — and not just when you’re teaching remotely!
  • Offer flexible options. Some students are watching responsibilities mount as they spend more time at home, and getting to a pre-scheduled time can mean making a hard choice between pleasing parents, taking care of siblings, and taking more wifi bandwidth that other family members have spoken for. It helps to have recorded sessions of lectures and office hours outside scheduled class time.
  • Be authentic. Remember the guy who was giving the foreign policy interview to a news station and his kid marched in the door, whom he tried to shoo away without making eye contact? Don’t be that guy. Keep your video rolling when you’re dealing with minor interruptions to show students that you’re going through the same thing they’re going through.
  • Turn to experts on campus. The library, tutoring, helpdesk, writing center, and access services all went online this semester too. We have a page where you can find links to those resources too. Students may not find the page on their own, but you can refer them to it, or drill down to find the resources that might help.

We continue to monitor the faculty development-verse for the best suggestions in navigating teaching during a pandemic, and we’re lucky to have so many great suggestions from you being sent in. This one was forwarded on from departing VPAA Sarah Ferguson. Thanks, Sarah!